The NRA has filed suit against Cuomo and the head of New York’s Department of Financial Services, Maria Vullo. I was hoping NRA was working on this, because the lawsuit practically writes itself. The 33 page complaint can be found here. The suit is not just against Cuomo and Vullo in their official capacity, but also against them as individuals. This means Cuomo and Vullo will be personally on the hook for part of NRA’s losses, and NRA is claiming that it “…Â has suffered tens of millions of dollars in damages based on Defendantsâ€™ conduct …”
Defendantsâ€™ unlawful exhortations to New York insurance companies, banks, and financial institutions that they, among other things, â€œmanag[e] their risks, including reputational risks, that may arise from their dealings with the NRA . . ., as well as continued assessment of compliance with their own codes of social responsibility[,]â€ as well as â€œreview any relationships they have with the NRA[,]â€ and â€œtake prompt actions to managing these risks and promote public health and safety[,]â€ constitute a concerted effort to deprive the NRA of its freedom of speech by threatening with government prosecution services critical to the survival of the NRA and its ability to disseminate its message. Defendantsâ€™ actions constitute an â€œimplied threat[ ] to employ coercive state powerâ€ against entities doing business with the NRA, and they are reasonably interpreted as such.
There’s several things claimed in this complaint that are important. One is that even if DFS was correct in fining Lockton and Chubb, it was wholly inappropriate and beyond the scope of their lawful authority to demand that both companies cease doing business at all with NRA, even outside of New York, even for programs which are compliant with New York Law. When I first read that, my thought was “That’s pretty much slam dunk a First Amendment violation.”
Secondly, NRA argues that the fine was meant as retaliation for NRA’s exercise of its First Amendment rights, because other organizations similarly situated to NRA are apparently violating New York’s claimed regulation and have not faced prosecution. NRA claims Lockton and Chubb were singled out specifically for NRA’s views which Cuomo and Vullo find abhorrent.
Federal judges will still be federal judges, and gun rights and NRA are not popular among that set, especially in New York City. But this is a First Amendment case, and the precedent is much more clear that Cuomo and Vullo are violating NRA’s rights, and as a consequence, our rights as members. I do hope if and when this hits discovery, if other conspirators are found, they are added to the suit.
They wanted to make an example out of us. Now we can turn this around and make an example of them.